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How Do Noise-Canceling in Earbuds Work

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The best headphones often have the best technologies built in. This is even more true when it comes to the best wireless earbuds. Since they’re so small, it takes a lot more careful engineering to fit in the necessary components. One feature you’ll find in higher-end pairs is noise cancelation. This might have you wondering, “How do noise-canceling in earbuds work?” We’ll explain that concept today.


  • There are a number of engineering feats when it comes to the modern earbud. These tiny devices are capable of such features as noise reduction and cancelation.
  • Active noise cancelation is a lifesaver for audiophiles looking for a clear, immersive listening experience. This mode blocks out unwanted noise to increase sound quality.
  • Essentially, “anti-noise” is created through a process called “phase inversion.” This is a complicated process with a lot of physics behind it.

Explaining Active Noise Cancelation in Earbuds

Noise-cancelation earbuds are a miracle of modern science. They allow you to block external noise so you can fully concentrate on whatever content you’re streaming, whether that be a TV show or your favorite music. If you want to know more about how over-ear headphones work, try reading our article explaining how noise-canceling headphones work. If you’re not sold on in-ear models, check out what over-ear headphones are. Of course, if you’re sold on earbuds, be sure to research how much earbuds cost to find a pair in your price range with the features you need.

Insider Tip

A high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones will block out ambient noise so you can better enjoy your content.

What is Active Noise Cancelation?

Active noise cancelation will be a lifesaver if you hate external sounds ruining your listening experience. Noise-canceling technology has come a long way and is now more effective than ever at controlling content interruptions due to external noise. Noise cancelation allows you to block out background noise. To learn more about other noise-control modes, look into what ambient mode in earbuds is.

How Earbuds Block Ambient Noise

Earbuds use a simple process to cancel out noise. It’s called “phase inversion.” This process is tricky, but when done correctly, it creates “anti-noise.” There’s quite a bit of complicated physics that goes into this, so we won’t get too far into the details. Just know that sound waves essentially cancel each other out using microphones and speakers in the earbud. This also improves sound quality since you can hear the music more clearly.


You shouldn’t use noise cancelation technology if background noise is essential for safety, like when walking in the city.

STAT: Bluetooth headphones occupied 60 percent of the total number of headphones sold in Russia in the first half of 2022. (source)

How Do Noise Canceling Earbuds Work FAQs

What can I do to get better sound quality?

One of the best things you can do is invest in a high-quality pair of noise-canceling headphones. If you have a properly fitted earbud that seals into your ear canal, you can have an even better experience.

What’s the difference between noise-canceling headphones and earbuds?

“Noise-canceling headphones” is a catch-all phrase that can sometimes refer to earbuds. However, it relates primarily to over-ear models. On the other hand, earbuds fit snugly into your ear canal.

Which pair of earbuds should I purchase?

While there is a wide range of options on the market, the AirPods Pro tends to be a fan favorite. Even if you aren’t an Apple fan, these little earbuds offer quite a few features, like passive noise reduction.

What is passive noise isolation?

There’s a lot of technology in noise cancelation technology. However, sometimes the best method is to block noise physically. Passive noise isolation is just that: using a physical barrier to block noise.

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